Monday, December 31, 2007

The power of the state is ugly

Occasionally something will drive me to blink back tears of sadness and frustration.

The story of the malformed baby from Samoa is one such case.

The community raised $100,000 to get her to NZ after a plastic surgeon said it was worth having a look at what might be done for her. The Immigration Department, after taking their own advice, refused her entry to New Zealand.

Nobody is asking the government for money. A young baby has zero chance of becoming an over-stayer. All her parents want is a definitive assessment which they cannot get in Samoa. But Immigration says the child cannot enter the country.

Witness the power of the state at its worst.

Today's Taranaki Herald has written on the subject. Well said;

Miracle baby deserves our help
Taranaki | Monday, 31 December 2007

Rules, rules, rules.

Some people and organisations live by them and follow them to the very letter. And not even Christmas or compassion can sway them from adherence to that tight, strict path, says the Taranaki Daily News

Our immigration department is one such organisation.

Even though it has been revealed to be extraordinarily incompetent in its application of those rules, with largesse and officiousness thrown around in equal abandon when it considers cases involving Pacific Islanders, there's still no room for leniency for a little girl named Miracletina.

She's a four-month-old baby born in Samoa with incredible, pitiful deformities: no top to her brain, no eyeballs, a double cleft palate, no fingers, deformed feet and spina bifida.

It's a miracle that she has survived, and family have fed the baby girl against doctors' advice. But not only has she survived, she is healthy, can raise her head and responds to family members.

Now she needs our help.

And we have slammed the door. Thanks, but no thanks. Sorry, says our immigration department, we've looked at your case and it doesn't meet our criteria. Nothing we can provide will do any good.

Fair enough, you say. Our hospitals and medical specialists are over-burdened enough, without taking on the cases of other nations' citizens, no matter how touching and needful.

But these are not people coming to us for a handout. This is not a family and a community who have simply tossed their hands into the air and said they've done all they can do and now it's up to someone else to sort out the mess.

The family have raised the not insignificant sum of $103,000 in the Baby Miracle Appeal in Samoa and New Zealand. That's people in this country who have pledged to help this child, this family to deal with what is an awful misfortune; helped towards a campaign to send this unfortunate child and her family to New Zealand, if even just for an examination.

But still our officials say no.

We believe that's not on, and the immigration officials need to take a cold, hard look at themselves.

This family doesn't want charity, although they definitely deserve it.

They have made a huge effort to help themselves, which already puts them above the many others in this country happy to get something for nothing.

This family is saying to New Zealand that there is something you can provide that will be of some good.

And that's hope.

Given what we have in this country compared to what's available in many Pacific Islands, surely that's not too much to ask, is it?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Recruiting gang members easier than recruiting fruit-pickers

What a joke. Yesterday I blogged about the so-called labour shortage in Southland. It would however appear gangs can recruit people to sell 'P'.

The Central Otago district mayor said a growing number of Mongrel Mob members and affiliates who were recruiting teenagers in Cromwell could be driven out of town by locals.

Police yesterday confirmed a group of gang affiliates had moved into the area in recent weeks, and had established themselves at three properties in the town...

Earlier this month, Canterbury police expressed concern both the Mongrel Mob and Black Power were recruiting in smaller South Island centres to reach profitable new drug markets. At the time Inspector Dave Gaskin said the gangs were trying to spread their drug business.

"The Mongrel Mob are the catalyst, they are driving it. They pick on the easy targets, the low socio-economic, low-intelligence kids and as a result they are getting a foothold in the area."

And where do the low socio-economic kids come from? Frequently, welfare-dependent, single parent, workless homes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A government too willing

It's that time of the year when we hear the same old story about fruit grower's desperation to hire harvesting staff.

More than 11,000 foreigners in New Zealand have been individually urged to immediately take up seasonal work in Central Otago, as desperate cherry growers in the district teeter on the brink of losing their crucial export harvests because of a labour shortage.

From Boxing Day, every visitor thought to be in New Zealand with a Holiday Working Scheme permit was sent text messages and emails urging them to head to Central Otago, in a last-ditch effort by Horticulture New Zealand and the Department of Labour to boost workers in the district.

Central Otago has been recognised as having an absolute labour shortage by Work and Income New Zealand for the past three years.

There are 19,000 people aged 18-64 picking up a benefit in Southland alone. I understand some would not be able to do the physical work required and some would need to make arrangements for young children. That aside I cannot accept there isn't labour available in that pool. Whether it is willing is another matter. Perhaps the government should be less willing to provide them with an alternative.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 'J ' word

A 5 year-old punches his mother in the face and she gets the headline for punching him back. Then she prostrates herself before the public and judiciary. Get this line, about the new anti-smacking laws;

It also meant people who saw such things would be forced to make judgments on other people's parenting and to weigh up whether they thought it was necessary to call police to intervene, she said.

Now there's an idea I hadn't thus far appreciated. I am sure Sue Bradford wouldn't be very happy about the thought she has forced society back towards judgmentalism. Most liberal lefties worship at the altar of non-judgmentalism and moral relativism. How often do you hear one say, walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me?

The left produces a curious mix of permissiveness and authoritarianism, does it not.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A word about Xmas bingeing

At last. Some good advice received via e-mail...

I just read an article on the dangers of heavy drinking....
Scared the hell out of me.
So that's it!

After today, no more reading.

Although I think I can guarantee 'safe' reading here. Thanks so much for all the comments made over the past two years. Have a great day. I'm off to ice gingerbread men and marinate the steak for the barbie... and wouldn't you know's persisting down....
Merry Xmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Upstairs, Downstairs

Did you see this story on TV3 news last night?

An elderly couple have only seen each other about 12 times in a year because she lives upstairs and he lives downstairs. Apparently the health department promised them a lift over a year ago and it hasn't materialised. We, the audience, are supposed to gnash our teeth and wring our hankies, I gather, as the National MP Paul Hutchison rails at the useless, heartless government.

Sorry but I find this scenario ridiculous. Why haven't they moved to a one storey home? Where are the friends and family who could help them do this? The husband has terminal cancer but the wife could live for years yet with MS and if she hasn't seen her partner more than 12 times in a year that means she hasn't been out of the house more than 12 times. The house is completely unsuitable. Paul Hutchison should be giving this couple better advice. Telling them Labour has made their lives miserable isn't helping.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Doing it tuff

Alas, there are no christmas presents under our tree this year.

No, we have not fallen on hard times and nope, I haven't fashionably adopted the greenie, meanie mantra, muttering about the filthy commercialism of Xmas, the vile exploitation and extravagance of giving.

No. The reason we have no gifts under our tree is a christmas tree terrorist is at large. No bright bauble, no twinkling tinsel and no lovingly wrapped parcel is safe.

We sent in the riot no avail.

The only relief from this onslaught is when the terrorist sleeps.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tacky, tacky

This really is the most tacky little story but I can't let it go (neither could he obviously) without comment. I swear I had to look up 'onanism'. It isn't a word I have ever come across. Oh sorry. This just gets worse.

A student masturbates in a Palmerston North K-mart changing room due to exam stress he says but the judge isn't buying it because of "a report that suggested the 24-year-old was sexually aroused by trying on new trousers."

What??? People can get sexually excited from trying on new trousers and he says he's stressed??? Spare a thought for me. I will never be able to look at changing rooms in the same light again. I think from now on I'll be coming home with clothes that don't fit.

It happened in the middle of the day on December 5, Sergeant Chris Whitmore told the hushed court.

The student went into the changing rooms with two pairs of trousers, pulled down his own trousers, sat on the floor of one of the rooms, and began his venture into onanism.

But there was a metre gap between door and floor and two people saw what he was doing.

Judge Ross said the defendant's offending was at the lower end of the scale.

People could see him, but he couldn't see them.

And so if he could see them but they couldn't see him it would have been at the worse end of the scale? How does that work?

And he didn't notice the metre gap??? Either the guys an exhibitionist or he got confused and thought he was at the sperm bank and people would approve.

Judge Ross said ... a conviction would be "out of all proportion" to the seriousness of the offence, especially with the defendant seeking a job at a district health board, he said.

Sakes alive. A job at the DHB? They need more w.....s?

Please pick me up off the floor. Oh shit. I mean pick him up off the floor. I'm down here for different reasons.

When you thought it couldn't get any worse....

There is no shortage of bad news about the British NHS. This piece provides a practical insight into how "administration, targets and regulations have made NHS care 'worse than five years ago'." It is written by James Bartholemew after discussions with a consultant. It really is an eye-opener. Does anybody know if their systems have parallels with NZ?

Privatise ACC

When you next go to register your car you will pay $50 more. Some people will call it a tax increase. It isn't. It's an insurance premium increase - a wopping 24 percent increase.

The ACC Minister says the increase is necessary because of the rising costs associated with car crashes. But looking at the number of vehicles and the number of injuries, they are tracking fairly closely. Costs are increasing but so is revenue from vehicles. Hard to see justification for a 24 percent rise there. But when you are a monopoly insurer it doesn't matter whether the customer buys the excuse or not.

If you were faced with an increase in your household contents insurance of 24 percent you might decide to shop around for a better deal. That's as it should be. But when the state monopolises insurance you are at their mercy.

The funny thing is the people who will moan most about this and be hardest hit are the same people who think that the state should run everything so that terrible thing called PROFIT can be avoided.

It's a simple connection many seem incapable of making. If you want choice and competition and lower prices you have to accept the profit motive.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Minor increase" in reports involving child assaults

Police record a 17 percent increase in reports for smacking or abuse when comparing the three months prior to and following the implementation of the 'anti-smacking' law.

Now we need a release from CYFS detailing the number of reports made to that organisation to complete the picture. I wonder if we will get one. Seems the police are far more forthcoming than CYFS.

More time awake

I forgot to mention yesterday that my blog was two years old. When I began blogging I knew I had to find the time for it. The only way that was going to happen was to get up earlier in the morning. So I resolved to get up at 5.15 am each day instead of 6.30. By my calculations I have added 75 minutes of waking time to 505 weekdays for two years. That's 631 extra hours or 26 days. That's not much. But if I blog out my natural life expectancy I would have been awake for 468 days longer. Almost one and a third years. Hell that's still not much. No wonder I have never been a saver. So much effort for so little gain. I mean what else could I have done with that time. Slept. Oh yes. There is a lot to be said for sleeping. I recently read that those people who regularly had eight hours sleep live longer. Live longer?? But they have been asleep for more of it.
But it's about quality of life you say? Shushhhh. Any more talk like that and the government will be passing minimum sleep laws.

Anyway, happy birthday to me for yesterday. Here's to sleep deprivation and more of it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A double blow

There is an awful irony about the passing of the EFB.

The backlash against Labour is driving the high National poll results. Average Kiwis are now heartily sick of Labour's arrogance and defiance of public opinion. The EFB is only one more instance of this. National's popularity is a vote against Labour.

In the latest poll not one minor party was above 5 percent. I understand that the likelihood of this carrying through to election day, based on past trends, is low. But it is nevertheless a possibility.

Most New Zealanders voted for MMP. They wanted minority viewpoints represented and more consultative government. If they flock to National, desperate to get rid of Clark, they risk delivering an even less accountable government. And they risk losing an MMP parliament.

In which case democracy will be dealt a double blow as all those who support neither National nor Labour lose representation in the house and in the select committees.

Labour and the Greens and NZ First have scuppered freedom of expression with the EFB. People need to take care now not to let their reaction further undermine the ability of all New Zealanders to participate in some way in the law-making processes of their country.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Raise the retirement age"

The Retirement Commissioner has suggested lifting the retirement age. As if the government sets one. People can retire whenever they like. But they can't claim a pension until they are 65.

That government mandates a retirement age is a mindset that needs lifting. Along with the age at which people can start drawing from the general taxation fund. If the qualifying age for Super was set to match the average periods spent on the aged pension in 1900, the eligibility would now be well into the seventies for men and pushing 80 for women.

Super is just another distortion of an originally means-tested benefit for the neediest people. There is nothing wrong with retirement funding schemes but I have never quite understood why New Zealand went against international trends and opted to fund it from the Consolidated Fund instead of dedicated contributions. Actually, for the original aged pension, tracts of land were set aside to produce income for funding but it quickly became apparent the income would fall well short of what was required.

Super is one enormous political football that refuses to stop bouncing. Introducing universal Super in 1938 was a mistake which has never been corrected. As the population is now ageing so rapidly Super is going to become an enormous strain on the economy, not to mention the publicly-funded health and care needs of the elderly.

The above shows population projections from Statistics New Zealand. The only good news is other countries, from memory, mainly European, are in a worse boat than NZ. Their projected retired to working population ratios are worse than ours.

Pity our kids who will have to deal with the mess successive governments, Labour and National, have bequeathed them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Homeless by choice

It is always refreshing to read a report which touches on the truth. For instance;

Like all those the Waikato Times spoke to who work with the homeless, Mr White said many people who live on the streets were there by choice.

I imagine the response to that by some is, they don't know any better, they aren't making an 'informed choice'. Nobody could want to live like that.

That is a matter for conjecture. Meanwhile don't people have a right to live on the streets if they choose? If the streets belong to the public by proxy then these people have every right to live on them. It may offend, it may distress, it may anger others. But as long as street dwellers live within the law perhaps we ought to stop wringing our hands and accept them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Don't traumatise those worms

The inventor of a worm-driven composting toilet had to prove the worms were not traumatised or stressed by their task before council bureaucrats would approve the system.

Coll Bell, who invented the "wormorator" as an alternative to septic tanks, was told by an Auckland Regional Council staff member to get an expert's report on the psychological impact on the worms after she became concerned during a site visit.

"She felt that the worms were being unfairly treated, being expected to deal with human faeces, and that it could affect them in a psychological way," says Bell. "I said, `Well, what do I do about that?' and she said `you have to have someone with the necessary qualifications to say the worms are happy'."

Ever curious I googled 'happy worms' in an attempt to discover how one could assess such a being, and their mental condition. There could be a job there for me. At this time of year I always have too much time on my hands.

I have now ascertained that worms are quite happy with donkey or dog poop but not the human equivalent. Look. Somebody has even drawn a little picture of unhappy worms.

Of course it is absolutely valid to attribute human emotions to worms in this manner. Can you definitively discount the existence of trauma in a worm? I think not. We know some worms are very happy because they glow. So it follows that others are very unhappy because they do not glow.

This Auckland Regional Council employee deserves an award for wormitarian services to wormkind. And the man who invented the 'wormorator' must be reported to the SPCW for even thinking about inflicting psychological abuse on such vulnerable and defenceless creatures.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Here is a married couple charged with 'P' offences. Not convicted. The judge says that it will be a long time before the trial takes place. They are remanded in custody and CYFS take their four children aged 4 weeks to 13 years.

The thought occurred to me that Sue Bradford has a bill which would allow mothers to keep their very young children in prison. Some already do but this bill wants to extend the period and expand the practice.

Here is a mother of a month-old baby being separated from it when she hasn't even been convicted of an offence.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The wrong motivation

I came across this on another blog. It's a Left blog that appears to have attacking David Farrar and others as its reason for being. It is even styled after the very popular Kiwiblog. Naturally its contributors are anonymous.

Linking whoring to Lindsay Mitchell is not going to help you, Ms Mitchell’s barely numerate.....I’ve read Mitchell’s commentary before and she struggles to make out coherent argument and doesn’t deal with stats well. Her problem of course may not be numeracy, it may be that her arguments don’t stack up with you look for data…

Wouldn't it be better if the poster had simply questioned my arguments here? If I get things wrong - and I do - I'm not going to get it right without somebody pointing out the error. But what this comment really brings home is the propensity of some (many?) on the Left to malign people rather than their ideas. Trevor Mallard leaps to mind.

And I question the motivation of these types. Their interest in politics seems to stem largely from the pleasure they take in fighting and hating. That's a shame because they give politics a bad name and ward off others who might have a worthy contribution to make. We mustn't let that happen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More jiggery-pokery from Minister

Here are Ruth Dyson's answers to Russell Fairbrother's questions in Parliament yesterday. I will intersperse my own comments;

1. RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has she received regarding the number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister for Social Development and Employment): I am delighted to report to the House that the number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit is at its lowest since 1979. Our Government has invested in New Zealanders. We have rebuilt the tax credit system to make work pay and we are providing active support to help people find jobs. More than 141,000 people have come off an unemployment benefit since 1999, which is a decrease of 88 percent.

This is not right. Her answer implies there is a static pool of people on the unemployment benefit. In reality there will have been over 1 million cancellations over that period with slightly fewer grants hence the total at any given time trends down. (For the critics, you might find an instance of my own sloppy description of the situation but I am not the Minister.)

Russell Fairbrother: What progress has been made in reducing the number of young people receiving the unemployment benefit for long periods of time?

Hon RUTH DYSON: Great progress. Five years ago our Government made a commitment with the Mayors Task Force for Jobs to ensure that all young New Zealanders are on a clear pathway to economic independence and well-being. That collaborative effort has resulted in a tremendous achievement. This week, fewer than 250 18 and 19-year-olds have been on an unemployment benefit for longer than 13 weeks. That is a drop of 97 percent since December 1999. This afternoon my colleagues and I will meet with the Mayors Task Force for Jobs to look at our next challenge.

No mention is made of the 2,000 18-19 year-olds who receive emergency benefit, independent youth benefit,unemployment benefit training and unemployment benefit training hardship and unemployment benefit student hardship.

Russell Fairbrother: Are people leaving the unemployment benefit only by simply transferring to sickness or invalids benefits?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The answer is no. The reason that most people leave the unemployment benefit is to enter paid employment.

Madam SPEAKER: It is impossible to hear the Minister’s reply. I ask the Hon Ruth Dyson to please start again.

Hon RUTH DYSON: The answer is no. Most people leave the unemployment benefit to enter paid work. Only 8.5 percent of all unemployment benefit cancellations between September 1999 and September of this year have been as a result of transfers to sickness benefit. Over the same period, 60,000 people went the other way. That makes a net transfer of 31,000. One-third of 1 percent of unemployment benefit cancellations over the same period were as a result of a transfer to an invalids benefit; and over the same period 450 went the other way. That makes a net transfer of just 2,850. The combination of those two factors is nothing like the 141,000 people who are no longer dependent on the unemployment benefit.

This is interesting. Now Dyson correctly utilises the inflow/outflow process (while continuing to wrongly describe what has happened to the unemployment benefit). That's because it suits her argument to talk about net transfer. However there is no proof that those people who went onto sickness from unemployment benefits are the same people who transferred the other way. In fact some will have progressed onto the invalid's benefit. Therefore the gain from a benefit may be much larger than the net transfer. Here is what MSD research has to say. It doesn't matter that they looked at an earlier period because under Labour the net transfers have increased.

We estimate that growth in transfers explains 60% of the growth in Invalid’s Benefit inflow rates at ages 15–59 between 1993 and 2002. This translates to a 31% contribution to the overall growth in inflows to that benefit (Table 2)19, a share of growth that is bigger than the independent contributions of either the demographic changes or the increase in inflow rates at ages 60–64 shown in Table 1.

In summary a great many people now on an invalid's benefit came from an unemployment benefit via the sickness benefit. Ruth Dyson had managed to make it look as though only 2,850 of the 78,000 came from the dole during Labour's administration.

Update - And this is how it turns it translates in a news item;

Benefit switching labelled a myth

12/12/2007 6:12:03

The Social Development Minister is debunking accusations beneficiaries are moving from the dole to sickness and invalid benefits.

Ruth Dyson says only 8.5 percent of all unemployment benefit cancellations between September 1999 and September of this year have been as a result of recipients going on the sickness benefit. She says over the same period less than one percent went from the dole to an invalid benefit.

Ms Dyson says the reason most people leave the unemployment benefit is to go into paid work.

Unemployment is at a record low of around 20,000 people,but more than 100,000 people are collecting sickness and invalid payments.

Labour only scratching surface of welfare problem

Although I would have liked to tackle the unemployment spin it was too complicated for a media statement so I settled on the following. Something had to be said. National didn't even put up a single supplementary to this question yesterday.

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has she received regarding the number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit?

Media Release
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Minister for Social Development Ruth Dyson has announced that the number of people on an unemployment benefit is at a 28 year low. She did not release a companion press statement announcing that the number of people on a sickness or invalid benefit is at an all-time high.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell notes; "In fact twenty eight years ago there were 23,000 people on these benefits. Today there are over 127,000 and the numbers continue to rise unabated.

While people on unemployment benefits tend to respond favourably to a strong job market, those on other benefits do not. People on the sickness, invalid and domestic purposes benefits therefore pose a far greater challenge for government.

While Ms Dyson, who has only recently assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Social Development, boasts in Parliament about 'low' unemployment figures, thousands of people are continuing to enter the benefit system destined to become long term sickness, invalid and domestic purposes beneficiaries."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This level of spin is disgusting

Let's go back to what Ruth Dyson said yesterday;

The number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit is at a 28 year low, Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

“In December 1999, when the Labour-led government came into office, 161,000 people were receiving an unemployment benefit. Over 141,000 have come off this benefit since then, with just over 20,000 people receiving it now. These numbers haven’t been this low since 1979. In addition, this government has radically reduced youth unemployment numbers,” said Ruth Dyson.

Now consider the following;

Those on the 'Unemployment Benefit related' numbered 1,214 whereas the number on 'other main benefits' numbered 3,214. Yet the definition of 'other main benefits' includes Unemployment Benefit Training and Unemployment Benefit Hardship, etc. Surely these would be considered Unemployment related. Not if you don't want to count them.

Here's another thing.

Between 1999 and 2006 the numbers dropped from 161,000 to 40,000 or 75 percent.

This chart relates to ALL unemployment related benefits and shows expenditure has only dropped 54 percent.

Obviously some gains have been made under Labour. Or perhaps in spite of Labour. But why do they have to spin so much?? And calling it 'spin' is being very polite. The practice really does disgust me.

Update; Even allowing for cost of living adjustment, which a critic on another blog has pointed out I have neglected, the expenditure of $819 million is too high for the publicised 40,000 unemployment beneficiaries. The basic rate per year ranges from $6,000 to $13,000. Whereas the figures made sense in 1999 they don't in 2006. The figures above are taken from the MSD Statistical Report which is not the official measure for expenditure but they serve the purpose of showing that the numbers touted are by no means the full story.

The DPB problem remains

The following is a graph contained in a report released yesterday into the 2002 DPB reforms. The 'reforms' constituted removal of work-testing and implementation of Personal Development Plans. At a glance the results look promising.

Account should however be taken of the following;

1/ Between September 99 and September 06 there has been a drop of about 10,000. Over the same period there has been an increase in the number of single parents with dependent children on either the Sickness or Invalid's Benefits of over 4,000.

2/ An unknown number have moved onto the In Work payment which means they are still receiving the same or greater level of assistance with, in some cases, no change to their hours of work.

3/ The demographic from which the DPB draws is shrinking

4/ In the year 2006 alone 500 recipients moved on to Super.

Overall the employment rate of single mothers is however rising. It has climbed from around 40% in 1999 to just over 50% in 2006. That's the good news (although given overall unemployment dropped from 7.4 to 3.6 percent between 1999 and 2006 one might have expected a larger rise).

The bad news is the exit rates fell for those with children over 14 and those with;

- no qualifications
- who were teenagers when their oldest child was born
- who had already spent a large proportion of their time in the benefit system
- Maori and Pacific recipients

So my argument remains that we are not reforming the DPB in any way that will prevent more people with these characteristics (or who will develop them) from entering the system in the first place. Therein lies the problem. One neither Labour nor National seem prepared to face.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What's with the Unemployment Benefit?

New Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson says that only 20,000 are now on the unemployment benefit. The September Household Labour Force survey says there are 79,000 unemployed. Now I know they are different measures but in Australia the two roughly tally.

In September 2005 the HLFS had exactly the same number unemployed - 79,000 - as September 2007, but then there were 50,000 on the unemployment benefit. Now there are 20,000.

"We're Here To Help"

The casting of Rodney Hide in We're Here To Help was just awful. Having read elsewhere that Michael Hurst's characterisation was very good, I was disappointed. Expecting Michael Hurst to play Rodney Hide was a bit like expecting Maggie Smith to play Dawn French. It was just so not Rodney. I couldn't help but imagine how much better it would have been if Rodney had played himself.

Otherwise the movie held my attention. Some of the complete dorks at the IRD provided quirky entertainment. For me the classic line was when they discovered Henderson's development finance links to the BNZ Lower Hutt. The BNZ Lower Hutt?? Whoop,whoop, pull-up, pull-up. It was so nerdy. One of the jerks was styled physically on the manager from the brilliant series The Office, David Brent; another was played by an actor who has effortlessly played the same slimeball in other productions. He must be good because I am now convinced he is also a slimeball off screen.

Naturally, simply by default Dave Henderson's charisma is pushed up a notch or three.

A good Kiwi movie but I would have drawn out the time-line and cut down on some of the detail. They could have added a closing scene some years down the line - like in The Way We Were for instance - which rapped the movie more satisfactorily than just a few sentences on the screen. Both David and I had the same reaction. Is that it?

So three stars from me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Stop trusting your intuition, Kerre

This is a quote from Kerre Woodham's column in today's Herald on Sunday;

...I'm becoming a political agnostic. Intuitively, I believe well- meaning left-leaning policies and state intervention are the answers to helping the disaffected, but in the absence of any proof after nine years in that direction, I'm suspending my belief. Instead of expending so much energy on politics, I'd love to see this Government spend some time on policies.

Try sixty nine years 'in that direction'. If well-meaning state intervention to help the disaffected can be pinpointed to a key date I would choose 1938. That was when Labour introduced a social security tax and a raft of benefits hitherto unknown.

If Kerre could accept that instead of nine years of failure we've really had 69, perhaps she might start calling for fewer government policies instead of more.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Women want 'no-strings sex' "

Two young women researchers are calling for a new form of sexual ethics that would allow women to have casual sex without feeling that they're "sluts".

I do not understand this or the extrapolations made. A new set of ethics can't just be 'called for'. They evolve. My morality is my understanding of what is right and what is wrong. I can't just expect others to adopt my morality wholesale (although I can try to persuade them why I hold it).

Does this mean they want parents and teachers to tell children casual sex is OK? How can they do that when feelings about sex are so personal?

If people want to have casual sex that's their business. Hopefully they can find a willing partner and it doesn't get messy emotionally. But I won't be imparting this set of 'new ethics' to my kids. I will be imparting what I have learnt through my own experience and hoping I can help them avoid some pitfalls and pain.

It seems to me these ladies are denying the human condition.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I have a request off-blog for an eyes-open shot of Daisy.

Really...I'm not a cat person but we have all joined the dog's camp and are head over heels.....

The Family Party...

...has launched its website. They aim to take Mangere off Labour. I was interested to see what they had to say about welfare and especially sole parents as the Destiny Party was typically woolly. This is slightly more encouraging;

Sole Parents

THE FAMILY PARTY acknowledges the immense challenge of sole parenting when it comes to raising a family alone. In saying this, THE FAMILY PARTY is extremely concerned at a prevailing attitude amongst young girls who view the Domestic Purposes Benefit as a valid career choice; not understanding the detrimental affects such a lifestyle has on their children.

Don't try telling me they are wrong. I know and they know that this is fact. And it has to stop.

Abstinence opponents jump to conclusions

The US has experienced a rise in teenage births - the first in a long time. Some are saying it is a blip - others a reversal of a tend.

NZ figures are just the same. 2006 showed a marked increase over 2005. And the year-to-date Sept 2007 data showed a further increase.(Interesting that the Herald has printed the US story but ignored our own).

Without knowing more details - which ethnicity and socio-economic class are more affected, the teenage pregnancy and abortion rates for the same period - it is difficult to say what is causing this rise. But it is, for both countries, part of an overall increase in fertility.

Abstinence opponents are grasping on the idea that the rise in the US is a reaction to not being taught about contraception. Maybe. But we haven't had the abstinence drive here.

What role is welfare playing? Again difficult to say when each US state does it's own thing and can exempt up to 20 percent of welfare recipients from time-limits.

Then again, is there any point in trying to compare two countries with different ethnic make-ups?

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Hamilton's Parentline looks like it's a bit of a dog really and should probably be wound up. They have now had three years of staffing and governance problems. I had a look at their Annual Report and was disappointed in how captured by fashionable verbosity it has become. For instance;

In April 2007, the Trust Deed was updated by the Parentline Board when it was found the previous deed had not been registered following its adoption in November 2005. Independent legal advice recommended against continuing with the 2005 edition, and so the original 2003 constitution was reviewed and amended. This provided a further opportunity to review our ‘purpose’.

‘We wish to see an end to violence and neglect of children, and provide child advocacy. The aim is to enhance the lives of children and their families….’

- Parentline Charitable Trust Deed 2007, Clause D (iii)

The focus now is intervention, educating families and healing children.

‘We will explore means of empowering our communities to unify in the mission of promoting the well-being of all children & preventing child abuse and neglect, to ensure our children (irrespective of religion, race or gender) will live with dignity, in a safe and caring environment.

- Parentline Charitable Trust Deed 2007, Clause 3.1 Purposes

Mission statements are a waste of time when in practice the staff - what's left of them - are (allegedly) operating in an environment described as including;

An air of lethargy;

Low energy levels;

Spirit and soul gone;

Trying to keep the peace;

Not feeling safe.

Some of this will be to do with the kind of clients these social workers are dealing with. But I wouldn't mind betting that a great deal of their problems stem from being captured by government. 80 percent of their funding comes from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. In my experience this leads to organisations becoming obsessed with process and systems instead of results.

With all the bad publicity the organisation has had it is surprising they can raise any private money. It seems to me that volunteer organisations (which is what Parentline probably began as) should stay small and channel any ambition towards those they are trying to help.

We are going to hear a lot from National about welfare services being provided by the private sector as if it is some sort of magic bullet. Just remember many NGOs are but a tiny step removed from their major funders in character and effectiveness.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Standing for National

Stephen Franks explains why he is standing for National. I couldn't resist commenting.


If you think I've been a bit light on blogging here's why;

Our latest addition, she hasn't put a paw wrong since arriving on Monday. The dog is besotted and follows her everywhere with its nose just about up the kittens bottom. The kids are making just the most wonderful but restrained fuss over her showing me they are actually far more responsible than I might otherwise give them credit for.
She is 8 weeks old and come from a rather chaotic home where she has lived in the clay floor basement with her 3 brothers for the past two weeks. Her mother was hand reared after being discovered in an abandoned derelict car less than a year ago. She is gorgeous. Daisy. Named for my friend who wanted her to "grow up in luxury". She's making a good go of it.

Barriers to work

I was thinking about a conversation I had earlier this week. It was with a friend who is on the DPB. Her youngest has recently started school. So she told Work and Income, I want to get back into the workforce. Her daughter has an improving and intermittent health problem which may mean she is more prone to need time off school. Work and Income tells my friend she needs to get the Doctor to sign a form stating the daughter is well enough for her mother to work. My friend says, but her father can take care of her if needed. He is willing and available. Work and Income say, but he is not allowed to be in your home because he isn't allowed to live in your home. So that answer is not satisfactory. As the Doctor had only recently signed a form confirming the daughter still suffers from this health condition and needs continuing medication he can't 'un-sign' until May next year. The upshot is while my friend wants to work, WORK and Income are telling her she can't. I said, if you weren't on a benefit they couldn't tell you what to do and what not to do. In reality there is nothing to stop her finding a job herself, which she intends doing. But she is effectively barred from using Work and Income employment services. And I am guessing if she finds work she could be faced with relinquishing her daughter's disability allowance, as she has more or less asserted her daughter is no longer sick by getting a job. Assuming I am getting the full story, how dumb is all of this?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another stupid ban

This time in Devon, England where angel wings have been banned from nativity plays;

Linda Mitchell, headmistress at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic primary school in Paignton, Devon, told parents they would have to get rid of the wings on their little girls' angel outfits or they would be banned from taking part in the Christmas play.

Mrs Mitchell said that, because the wings, which are all made by the parents, had been of all shape and sizes, some of the children had been scratched during last year's nativity play.

She added: "We hold our services in a church where there are candles and if children turn around, there is a risk they could catch fire.

"For the safety of the children, staff decided that this year the angels would not have wings."

What next? Trees without Xmas lights, puddings without coins, crackers without bangers....what about a ban on fat Father Christmas' 'sending the wrong message to society' about healthy eating?

Stupid ban. Stupid people. There's no shortage of them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Looking forward to this

Let me know if you'd like a ticket.

Next weekend, Heather Roy will host a special private screening of 'We're Here to Help' - the true story of Dave Henderson's battle, with a little help from ACT Leader Rodney Hide, against the IRD.

Date: Sunday, December 9 2007
Time: 7.30pm for 8pm screening
Venue: The Light House Cinema, Pauatahanui
Cost : $20 per ticket (no door sales)
RSVP: Lindsay Mitchell - or (04) 562 7944

All welcome. Only 60 tickets available, so RSVP today.

New Minister Rejects Call For Work-testing

Media Release
Monday, December 3, 2007

In an updated report, Babies and Bosses, the OECD has once again recommended New Zealand work-test sole parents on welfare. The new Minister for Social Development Ruth Dyson has continued in the tradition of past Labour Ministers and rejected this advice.

Welfare Commentator Lindsay Mitchell was surprised that Ms Dyson , a committed social-democrat, would dismiss what is the norm in Scandinavian countries. "This government is usually quick to praise countries like Sweden and Denmark when it comes to social policy yet refuses to consider their approach to single parents. Neither country has a DPB equivalent. Scandinavian countries treat sole parents the same way as any other parent. Once paid parental leave expires they are work-tested for any further benefit receipt. "

"In Sweden sole parents only qualify for temporary social assistance as a very last resort, which results in their average duration of stay on welfare being just 5.9 months. In Denmark there is also no lone parent benefit. Out-of-work single parents are only entitled to a sickness or unemployment benefit. Both of these countries have employment rates for sole parents of between 70 and 80 percent."

"Even the United Kingdom and Australia have recently moved to more stringent testing, with the UK testing after the youngest child turns 12 and Australia, after the youngest child turns 6, with no eligibility for a Parenting Payment for new applicants with children 6 or older. They will be treated the same as the unemployed."

"While work-testing alone isn't enough to be highly effective, it would be an improvement on the status quo. Meanwhile, Ms Dyson claims NOT work-testing has been an effective approach yet there are still over 100,000 single parents reliant on welfare."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Equal pay does not lead to prosperity

Look at this harping headline, Women still paid 'significantly' less than men and then take a look at a OECD graph released yesterday here, which shows, amongst other things, New Zealand has the smallest gender pay gap of the OECD countries.

Not that it has helped us economically. It seems feminists are obsessed with two things; achieving equality and eradicating poverty. When are they going to make the connection?

Friday, November 30, 2007

DNA sampling disarray

Remember this recent announcement?

A National-led government would require DNA samples to be taken from anyone arrested for imprisonable crimes, allow police to issue immediate protection orders and would toughen up bail laws.

Here's a report from the UK which already takes DNA samples from anyone arrested for an imprisonable crime:

Civil liberties campaigners and MPs have raised doubts about the national DNA database after the Home Office confirmed it contained more than 500,000 false or wrongly recorded names.

Suspects arrested over any imprisonable offence, including rape and murder, can have their DNA held even if they are not charged or are acquitted.

The database, the biggest in the world, contains about four million names.

But it has been dogged by problems. Statistics released by the Home Office show it contains around 550,000 files with wrong or misspelt names.

It always gives me the shivers when I hear people say, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide, and then go on to advocate taking DNA samples at birth. Their trust in the administration and use of these databases is touching. I do not share it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What a difference a day makes

Sue Bradford is hollering about the fate of babies whose mothers go home shortly (about one day sooner than is already the case) after the birth of their child.

"One of the major contributors to the battering and killing of babies and young children is a lack of successful bonding between mother and baby. The situations where this is most likely to happen are in households where people do not have enough money to survive with any degree of comfort.

"These are also the households where the mother is most likely to take a $100 bribe to vacate the hospital immediately.

"In some cases she will be going home to poverty, chaos, and an expectation that she will meet the demands of other children as well as those of her new baby.

"Such mothers risk not being able to establish breastfeeding properly; not bonding well with their new child; post-natal depression and despair, as well as sinking into the addiction and crime subculture to which such households are vulnerable.

Over-egging it I think.

You have to wonder, if they are going home to such a household, why they had another child. Perhaps because, (Sue says they are the most likely to take the $100 bribe), they are also interested in the extra money and on-going benefit the new baby guarantees.

The $100 'bribe'

Wellington mothers are being "bribed" with $100 grocery vouchers to leave hospital within six hours of giving birth.

But I thought people couldn't be incentivised with money?? I mean, nobody gets pregnant for the DPB.

I was part of the 'nappy-bribe' generation. Not that I needed them in either sense. I didn't need an incentive to get out of the place asap and I gave the nappies to somebody who might materially appreciate them. The place was dirty. I watched a 'cleaner' enter the room with a mop and create a wet snail-trail in and around the beds and depart. Doing the recommended walking during labour resulted in feet dirtier than if I had gone outside and walked up and down the footpath (No I don't possess a pair of slippers). The vending machines offered more appetising choices than the hospital kitchens. And lying awake listening to screaming babies all night is hardly restful. If I had been of the era when they made you stay in hospital for days to 'recuperate' I would have been tearing my hair out. I can't understand why anyone wouldn't want to go home at the first possible opportunity.

But I had to shake my head at the last line in the news item.

Hospitals used to offer free nappies to encourage mothers to leave early, but this policy had largely been abandoned.

In 2005, Hutt Valley District Health Board said it stopped the practice as it "had concerns this may be an inappropriate incentive for unwell women to go home".

How archetypically illustrative of bureaucratic bungling. Chopping and changing policies with neither reason nor rhyme. Propelled by pragmatism. In all its wisdom, Capital and Coast has decided incentives are appropriate with a qualifier - cash is and nappies are not.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who to believe

Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft makes a habit of being outspoken. That's good. At least we get a view even if we choose to disbelieve it. Fewer youths are being given diversion and he blames it on a lack of police resources. The police however blame it on the more serious nature of youth offending. Not shown in this link but in the hard copy is the judge claiming that violent offending is rising in all cohorts, particularly 51-99. That's a twist. Violent youth offending is rising, but as every other group's is, we should discount it?

Despite the successful use of diversion since reforms in 1989, its use had fallen markedly in the past two years, Judge Becroft said.

What constitutes "successful"? That some potential criminal careers have been nipped in the bud by keeping the individual out of court? I am sure that is true. But how many other individuals have gotten deeper into the poo because they weren't punished? Their misdemeanours were pandered to by a justice system that teaches them they are the 'victims'.

Because if the present situation constitutes "success" we don't even want to begin to imagine failure.

"This is a great provision," he said. "There's no other youth justice system in the world that has a provision like that ... that instructs authorities: don't charge."

It fascinates me what people say when they are addressing the like-minded. Maybe my reaction is heightened because this statement is taken out of context. But really. For all those do-gooders who constantly chatter about 'sending messages' this is very much an own goal.

Try rephrasing it. New Zealand bends over backwards to avoid holding young thugs and thieves to account.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Where most babies are born

Part of this effect is people have babies at a time in their lives when they haven't accumulated much wealth but the graph still seems heavily skewed toward the Decile Ten areas.

Teenage birthrate almost ten-fold in poorest areas

Media Release
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Released today by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, "Monitoring the Health of New Zealand Children and Young People " reveals teenage birth rates that vary enormously across geographic and economic regions.

"These statistics confirm a strong correlation between low income and teenage births, "said Lindsay Mitchell, welfare commentator . "The birth rate in the most deprived areas (decile 10) is 60.49 per 1,000 15-19 year-olds. This drops to 6.56 in decile 1 areas. This confirms that it is those girls who are least able to financially afford to raise children who are having them. Hence so many end up on welfare."

"The teenage birthrate also varies geographically from a low of 13.5 in Otago to a high of 59.4 in Gisborne, which is also home to the highest number of children living in one parent homes."

"Maori have the highest teenage birthrate at 77.64 compared to 16.43 for Europeans. Earlier Ministry of Social Development data shows that Maori are 8 times more likely to be a teenage parent on welfare."

"As the report notes, 'High teenage pregnancy rates are a cause for concern as young maternal age has been associated with a number of adverse birth outcomes ... and impact on the educational attainment, not only of the young women themselves but also the aspirations and opportunities available to their children.' "

"The government must now face facts and examine how paying girls to have babies is influencing this unacceptable situation. Employing eight people to work with teenage parents, when over 4,000 give birth each year, is not an answer."

Helping children from poor homes

The children who form the group covered by a damning Paediatric Society report are overwhelmingly those on welfare and those living in one parent homes - the poorest homes by a long margin. The automatic response from child health advocates therefore is to call on government to give more money to their parents - they cannot give it directly to the children - and to spend more money on their housing.

The second recommendation may have some substance. If the government is going to keep a stock of state homes it would be wise to maintain them. However that maintenance doesn't fall solely to the landlord. Tenants would benefit from looking after properties too. That means not breaking windows and leaving them unrepaired during winter months. Removing condensation in bathrooms so paint and wood do not deteriorate. Spending money on heating homes instead of using the money on alcohol, tobacco and drugs - the last of which can gobble up a benefit payment within a couple of days. Unfortunately when people do not own their property they have far less interest in looking after it.

The first recommendation is however made without thought and is without merit. In fact I would go so far as to say pumping more cash into the homes of these children may even worsen the overall picture.

That is because raising benefit levels has been demonstrated to attract more people onto benefits. It is interesting that the government accepts that raising the pay levels of teachers, nurses and policeman will attract more of them but doesn't use the same argument to resist calls to increase benefit levels - the current campaign being run by the Child Poverty Action Group and supported by the Greens and the Maori Party.

New Zealand's social assistance levels are already generous by international standards. So generous that many parents prefer living on a benefit to working. Not all, by any means, but a good percentage. They will justify this preference by pointing out that taking a job will mean they 'earn less' than they do on a benefit. This may have been the case in previous years but with the lowered abatement rates and In Work tax credits nobody should be disadvantaged when moving into work. And yet we still see thousands of parents move onto the DPB every year, especially teenagers who have little idea about child rearing or home maintenance yet are given that responsibility.

So in our employment-rich environment many parents would be better off - which is what the advocates want - if they got a job. Maybe not much better off immediately but there is more chance of income from employment rising than income from a benefit rising. As well many have only school age children. If the parent were also absent from the home more frequently less electricity would be used, power bills being one of their main expenses. And if some pre-school children's home environments are so very unhealthy then it would benefit them to also be elsewhere for at least some of the day.

At some point the role of a parent, the adult in the equation, must be questioned. It cannot continue to be the financial obligation of society to solve problems knowingly caused by individuals. Those caused by people producing children they cannot afford to raise being a major example. Socialising problems exacerbates rather than alleviates them.

So yes, the government may need to put some more money into existing state home stock but even more importantly, tenants need to take responsibility for keeping their homes in a sound and hygienic state.

Meantime what would make a huge difference for those parents who are struggling, be it their own fault or not, is more personal attention. More mentoring and practical help from private citizens. The faceless bureaucratic services cannot sort out the current mess by simply pouring more money into the homes of these children. Over thirty years of doing that already has shown it will not work.

The many child advocates promoting this solution mean well. I have no doubt. But they must look at the bigger and historical picture if they want the lives of New Zealand children to be better in the future.

In 1904 a Wellington trustee of the Charitable Aid Board said that the more the Government tried to assist the destitute the greater became the demands. This is as true today. Yet it seems many are destined to promote soft but unsuccessful solutions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

'Buying elections'

There is an obvious point about Labour's justification for the Electoral Finance Bill which needs fleshing out somewhat. Chris Carter's assistant highlights it here when defending Carter's response to an e-mailer;

A spokeswoman for Mr Carter said the question was the minister's standard response to messages against the Electoral Finance Bill.

"He was making a point about people trying to buy elections. He's trying to make the point that the Exclusive Brethren tried to influence the 2005 election secretly."

For Labour 'buying the election' means people spending their own money to influence how other people vote.

It doesn't mean spending taxpayer's money, half of whom do not support them, furnishing bribes to would-be voters. This type of politicking has gone on so long in New Zealand that most people are inured to it. Perhaps we should start pointing out that if those of us opposing the EFB are 'buying elections' then Labour and its lapdogs are 'stealing' them.

Let's just remind ourselves of the many ways this is so;

The whopper 'steal' was of course Working For Families which promised substantial pay-outs to earners and beneficiaries with dependent children. This is costing over $1 billion a year. There are at least 360,000 families benefiting. A very quick guess is non-recipients are paying on average around $6-700 each to fund these fairly secure votes for Labour.

To keep the more secure working-age beneficiary vote (beyond the WFF recipients) costs taxpayers around $4-5,000 each.

Then there are all those people who pay for private health insurance and private schools for their children who fund the votes of those staunch believers in the 'free' public health and education systems.

We have the ongoing and expanding system of health and education funding according to residential decile rating leading to large subsidies for Labour voters.

Other 2005 election bribes included interest free student loans, free 20 hours childcare, increased Super and issuing the Goldcard, Kiwisaver, and Welcome Home loans.

I am guessing next years bribes will include a full years paid parental leave, and some way of capitalising WFF for first home buyers (in the way family benefit used to be able to paid up front for a home deposit).

So the gall of these harping hypocrites who tell us those who oppose them are trying to 'buy elections' is staggering. It shows just how out of touch and removed from reality these redistributive robots are.

And the very worst aspect of it all? Their ideology is steadily diminishing New Zealand's prospects - economically and socially.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Working the System"

From the Times;

Frank Field, a former Social Security Minister, said last night that too many people were working the incapacity benefit system to avoid work. “It is a racket, which governments have allowed to exist for far too long. I do not blame people for working the system, it is the job of politicians to stop them doing it.”

Mr Field added that because job seeker’s allowance is lower than incapacity benefit, there was an incentive for people to try to be classified for the higher benefit.

The number on incapacity benefit has more than trebled since 1979 but in recent years it has been broadly stable at about 2.7 million. In the past 12 years, however, there has been a dramatic shift in the illnesses for which people are being given the benefit: 40 per cent now claim for mental health problems compared with just 20 per cent in 1995.

Mr Field said: “The big change over the last decade has been into illnesses which largely defy a clear medical classification: depression, dizziness and such. It is a move from the tangible illness to the intangible.”

NZ politicians take comfort from the fact that other countries have the same problem as ours. But there are differences. The number on a sickness or invalid benefit has more than just trebled since 1979. The increase is nearer six-fold. Whereas in the UK the numbers have stabilized, here they have not. But in terms of classification we are seeing the same trends;

Incapacity group Proportion of working aged Invalid’s Benefit recipients

Psychological or psychiatric conditions 27.8

Intellectual disability 14.1

Musculo-skeletal system disorders 12.7

Nervous system disorders 8.1

Cardio-vascular disorders 7.0

Accidents 6.8

Cancer and congenital conditions 6.8

Other disorders and conditions 16.7

Total 100.0

Incapacity group Proportion of working aged Sickness Benefit recipients

Psychological or psychiatric conditions 37.0

Musculo-skeletal system disorders 16.2

Accidents 9.4

Cardio-vascular disorders 5.8

Pregnancy-related conditions 2.8

Other disorders and conditions 28.8

Total 100.0

Underneath the Times article is this comment. Pathetic. Pathetic because the writer can only see a government-based solution.

Mental illnesses are a genuine reason not to be able to work. As a sufferer of clinical depression and Anorexia Nervosa, I can safely say there have been times when I would have been totally unable to do any job satisfactorily because of my illnesses.

Depression and anxiety disorders can be crippling. And eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses which can leave people unable to work long-term. I know people who have suffered from eating disorders for decades.

I was flatly told by the doctors that I was unfit to take up my place at university or have even a part-time job. I'm not even allowed to do a lot of walking because I have to keep my weight up, so why shouldn't I be allowed incapacity benefit? And yet I had to get private treatment because I'm not ill enough for the NHS.

At the end of the day if the government put more money into PREVENTING obesity and TREATING mental illness, they wouldn't HAVE to pay those people benefits.

Teeth trivia

According to an Australian report (hence the highlighted bar);

New Zealanders have the worst teeth in the OECD! Crikey.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Move on Trotter

Chris Trotter is blind. Or blinded by his love affair with Marxism.

Many New Zealanders hail in the first, second or third generation from people who left Europe to get away from class-based societies. They may not have consciously articulated this, instead talking about greater opportunity. One of my grandfathers was a miner and the other, an odd-jobs man who apparently worked his butt off at every opportunity. The sort of people Trotter puts on a pedestal.

They were oppressed by a class system where upward mobility was rare. New money was dirty money. No premium was put on education. My father and mother broke out. My father by educating himself at the library and my mother by going to teacher's training college. And finally by immigrating to NZ.

They are now part of the "owning class". Surely. As are the vast majority of New Zealanders. In one sense every New Zealander, even the poorest, because they have money in their pockets at some point every week. Money which allows them choices and opportunities.

Hasn't Trotter cottoned that the ruling class he loathes so vehemently has been replaced by the state? With this legislation the government plans to take money off every New Zealander to fund its re-election - both openly and covertly. That is money you have no choice about parting with. That process is coercive. And it's wrong.

But those who would ask you to part with your money willingly because you share a common cause - one of which may be trying to persuade people that the state is not benign - can now be effectively shut down for all of the year preceding the only chance you have to remove or elect representatives of your choice.

Trotter cannot grasp the essential prerequisites for freedom. Not only does he distort the concept of property rights but he ignores that force is perpetrated against people over and over by the state. He needs to move on. For all our sakes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I noted the judge who sentenced the father who smacked his child said, "While you may have gotten away with this in the past, it is a case of not now."

"Gotten away with..." suggests the action was wrong, even before the law change. Does that give you the impression the judge has a personal bias?


What do we have on the front page of the Dominion Post today? A report about Sigourney Weaver filming in Wellington wondering why so many men have moustaches. Her photo takes up nearly a quarter of the page. Do I care? Should I care? I guess coverage of yesterday's march must be on page 2 or 3. Well no. Not there. Not anywhere in fact.

The NZ Herald covers it, TV3 covered it, NewstalkZB and Scoop. It's national news but not Wellington news.

And here's another question I am pondering. If the flipping of a 4-seater plane on the runway can close Wellington airport for 2 hours what will happen if a 180-seater comes to grief?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Please Protest Today

The DomPost editorial says it all;

The purpose of the electoral finance and parliamentary funding bills is not to improve the law, but to gerrymander the system.

Unable to win public support for state funding of political parties, Labour and its allies have decided to introduce it by stealth. At the same time, they are denying others the opportunity to spend their own money arguing contrary positions.

If voters remember that when they go to the polls next year, Labour and its friends will get no more than they deserve.

Please get out today and protest. Midday at Civic Square. Show this corrupt bunch that we hold them in even greater contempt than they hold us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

White Ribbon Day

I wonder if this guy will be wearing a white ribbon tomorrow?

"Adoption urged"

Adoption push urged for teen mothers

20/11/2007 4:32:02

Changes to the benefit system are being advocated as a way to lower the rate of teenage pregnancies.

Statistics released yesterday show teenage birth rates are on the rise again, with 30.2 births for every 1,000 15 to 19 year-olds.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says births to young mothers have become the state's problem, and it is wrong for mothers to be able to sit on the benefit until their child is 18 years-old. She says the benefit should have a limit of five years, as it does in the US.

She is also keen to see more young mothers encouraged to offer their baby up for adoption, as this is a better option for the child than raising it in a negative environment. She says if there is gang involvement, drug addiction or abuse it is not going to be healthy for a child.

Ms Mitchell says CYFS should be promoting adoption as an option for young mothers-to-be.

I was interviewed for this piece and said we could do what the US does and time limit the benefit to two years at any one time and five years over a lifetime. Personally I would go further by limiting any assistance to one year. Pre-DPB expectant and new mothers were helped through social security assistance. The major difference was it was discretionary and short-term. And it didn't provide an incentive.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting tough on illicit drugs

Media Release
November 19, 2007

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard is promising to get much tougher on drugs by "quarantining" benefits of people who have a conviction involving heroin, cocaine or amphetamines. According to today's Sydney Morning Herald this would stop beneficiaries spending tax-payer money on drugs, alcohol or tobacco and would affect around 6,000 people a year convicted of offences but not sent to jail. Case managers would control their benefits, which could still be used to buy food and other essentials. Howard claims the proposal is primarily about sending a message that the government will not tolerate the use of illicit drugs.

Welfare commentator, Lindsay Mitchell expressed reservations about Howard's proposal.

"When benefits first became available people who had caused the incapacity which rendered them unable to work were excluded. In a similar way today, if you were to cause a car crash under the influence of alcohol your insurance would be invalidated. If governments want to get on top of the welfare abuse problem this type of distinction must be reintroduced. But having decided to make it, where does the line get drawn?"

"Prime Minister Howard is singling out people convicted of drug offences of a certain class. That means for the time being cannabis users are exempt. That means that people who have convictions for assault, rape or even murder will not have their benefits controlled. They can freely spend their payments on drugs, alcohol and tobacco while somebody who has no record of violence cannot."

"Nobody with a serious heroin, amphetamine or cocaine habit buys very much with their benefit money anyway. They fund their habit through other means eg prostitution and dealing. Having other income, they shouldn't even qualify for a means tested benefit. Cracking down on fraud would be a far more effective approach. "

"In any event 6,000 beneficiaries out of around 1.6 million is a drop in the bucket. What Howard is essentially saying is he won't tolerate illicit drug use but he will tolerate violence, child abuse, fraud and burglary because there will tens of thousands of beneficiaries with these types of convictions left untouched by this policy."

"If Howard wants a benefit system that does not send mixed messages by supporting all manner of undeserving cases with tax payer's money, he will need to go much further. The same can be said of New Zealand's system."

Sydney Herald link;

Go figure

Contrast the two following statements;

1/ In a poll of 1082 voters, people were asked whether the Government had more control over people's daily lives than they would like and 57 per cent answered yes. A further 37 per cent of voters rejected the proposition and 6 per cent did not know.

2/ The latest poll shows Labour back on the path to recovery, with 40 per cent support, just 5 points behind National.

Do people make any connection between "the Government" and how they vote? In this country there has been big government under Labour and National (except for the rogue administrations of the late eighties and early nineties) since the post war years. "Control over people's daily lives" is the price we pay for the welfare state.

Either they are masochists, fibbers, naives or political ineducates. Whatever it is, all of us have to put up with the results of this intellectual void.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This is news?

Fancy wanting to be a cutting-edge print-media journalist only to find yourself fossicking about in classroom rubbish bins for "shock-horror" stories.

And why is it always female researchers who bring us this absolute drivel?

I don't need "forcing" into seeing what my kids don't eat. They bring it home and it goes in MY bin. Perhaps I could sell the story of my rubbish bin to the Herald. No,no. What am I thinking. I'll go and tip it out myself, take a photo and blog it. My sitemeter will go through the roof!!

(I've got to go to cricket first though)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Running the show

My computer has developed a case of Cunliffitis - it's decided it's running the show.

Ever since it arrived at my house it's been churning away. Never shuts up. I don't know what it does all day but the drive is constantly chattering. To the point where it gets on my goat. There it goes again. Then this morning I'm in the middle of a post (OK it wasn't of earth shattering importance) and this thing tells me it's logging off. Hang on. I decide when I'm logging off. No you don't.

It wants to configure updates. But I'm busy right now. No your not. Configuring my updates is far more important.

Configuring. So I sit and stare at the screen as the hands move around the clock. Take your time. Don't mind me. I've got all the time in the world. You f-----. No you don't. Now it's shutting down. Hang on. Gone.

Then it whirs back into life. 'Welcome' it says. I'll f------ give you welcome. Where've you been? It wasn't me who left.

"Your last session crashed" it says. 'My session' didn't crash. How could it have been 'my session' when it's you who's running the show?

The cookie crumbles

Yesterday I heard some spokes-thingy on the radio saying the Griffin's factory closure in Lower Hutt, after 70 years manufacturing, was partly due to the obesity epidemic and warnings not to eat too much sugar.

Personally I'm not buying this - or Griffins products much. Griffins blame the closure on international competition. I'm not convinced about that either.

One thing I am sure of. It isn't because more people are home-baking!

When I buy biscuits I buy the ones that look home-made. Some come all the way from a bakery in Invercargill. I like plain wrapping so I can see what's inside. Trouble with Griffin's products is I know what's inside.

Lots of supermarkets have their own bakeries these days and turn out products that are more appetising than a vanilla wine biscuit.

Markets change. Griffins haven't kept up. It's that simple.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Garth George on the "gagging bill"

Garth George has written a great column today. Here are some excerpts...actually, no,I can't pick out the best bits so here is the whole thing;

If ever there were a reason to turf this Government out, it is the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Dear Leader in refusing point blank to scrap the despicable Electoral Finance Bill.

Here is a woman who has been blathering on about human rights ever since she became a public face, who rails against the military takeover in Fiji and demands a return to democracy there, and who gallivants round the world attending wartime anniversaries.

The irony seems to escape her that this bill, which has been written for no other reason than to give Labour an advantage during next year's election campaign, is the most serious attack on human rights in this country that has ever been mounted.

It is an assault on democracy every bit as dangerous as the antics of Frank Bainimarama, for it is the sort of legislation that prospective dictators force through to shut down public dissent.

And it is an insult to the thousands of New Zealanders who died in two world wars to turn back those who would have enslaved us and preserve our democracy and our human rights.

Helen Clark's visit to Gallipoli for the 90th anniversary of that campaign in 2005, and to the Somme for the similar commemoration of Passchendaele, look rather contemptible now, since the human right that those thousands died for is freedom of speech.

I have contempt, too, for the Labour running dogs who have indicated they will support this Government bill - the MPs of United Future, NZ First and the Greens.

I suppose it is expected of that master of self-interested compromise, Winston Peters, who is about to visit North Korea as our non-Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs.

If Kim Jong-il hears about the Electoral Finance Bill, he'll probably invite Winston to dinner.

Peter Dunne has never been anything but Labour lite and can be trusted only to lick the Government's boots.

But I must say I'm a bit surprised at the Greens. I would have thought blokes like Keith Locke and Nandor Tanczos, those champions of the underdog, would have cavilled at this piece of legislation. But no. Politics overrides principle yet again.

It is ironic, isn't it, that the excuse being used to put this bill forward is the activities of the leaders of an obscure religious cult during the last election campaign who wanted rid of Labour and the Greens and were prepared to put their money where their mouths were to the tune of $1.2 million.

Setting aside the fact that they were perfectly entitled to carry out this democratic activity, the irony is that it backfired on National and probably cost it that election.

The other thing, of course, that is pricking Clark and Co to go through with this bill - in spite of the opposition, some of it from Labour-friendly sources such as the Law and Human Rights Commissions - is simmering resentment over having to pay back $1.2 million for illegal taxpayer-funded election advertising last time.

So the Dear Leader and her minions are determined that next time advertising condemning or criticising the Government will be heavily restricted, while the Government will be able to spend what it likes promoting its own policies at no cost to the party.

If ever there was a misuse of political power, this is it. As this newspaper said in only its second front-page editorial in five years, "democracy is not a device to keep Labour in power".

But it is typically socialist and the longer this Government remains, the more its members see themselves as there to rule rather than simply to govern, persuaded that only they know what is best for the country.

But it is in reality only what is best for the rulers that matters; the exercise of power, through legislation and a powerful bureaucracy, becomes an addiction, and the thought of having to go without it becomes intolerable.

And, as with all addictions, the longer it is practised the worse it gets. Thus, the dumping of Labour a year from now would really be a humane act. Its members need saving from themselves.

I am intrigued that one of the Dear Leader's arguments in favour of the bill is that "the National Party benefits enormously from big money in New Zealand politics".

If that is true, how come National was almost wiped out in 2002 and failed to win Government in 2005?

Labour strategists seem to think that anger over this bill, if it becomes law in the next few weeks, will be forgotten come next year.

Not so. I, for one, certainly won't forget. But who knows?

Perhaps by then this column will be banned by law, too.